It's been shockingly hot in my neck of the woods the last few days, so I thought a cool blast from the past might be in order. This post first ran on April 15, 2008; do you have any recipes for frozen treats that you'd like to share, historical or otherwise?
Regina’s discussion of weather prediction got me thinking about spring in New England, the place about which Mark Twain said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” One of the surest signs of spring here is the sudden disappearance of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches from local grocery stores’ freezers on the first really warm day of the season. Ice cream is extremely popular in New England—I remember reading somewhere that more ice cream is consumed here than any other region of the US.
Old England had its share of ice cream lovers too, as you can see from this 1824 Ackermann print of a ball dress at right. What flavor does it look like she’s eating…black raspberry, perhaps? France too…this scene from a Le Bon Genre print at left entitled “La Belle Limonadiere” shows a young lady consuming what looks like a tiny egg-cup of lemon sorbet while admiring her waiter’s fine figure. And an ad from around 1840 (I wish it had included a picture) describes the virtues of “FULLER’S FREEZING MACHINE, by which four ICES can be made at one time, and repeated as often as required. The freezing apparatus, by which a Cream or Water Ice can be made by artificial process...” Ices and ice cream were a popular refreshment at balls and parties, both because they were something of a delicacy and because it was nice to slurp down something cold after dancing all evening.
We aren’t talking Ben & Jerry’s, however. I found a handful of ice cream (or iced pudding, as they were called) recipes in the 1846 cookbook The Modern Cook, written by Queen Victoria’s chef, Charles Francatelli. Flavorings included pureed pineapple, ground almonds, ground hazelnuts and cherry puree, and, believe it or not, rice. From the amounts of sugar in some of these, ice cream was preferred tooth-achingly sweet. Here’s a recipe:
ICED PUDDING, A LA CHESTERFIELD
Grate one pound of pineapple into a basin, add this to eight yolks of eggs, one pint and a half of boiled cream, one pound of sugar, and a very little salt; stir the whole together in a stewpan over a stove-fire until the custard begins to thicken; then pass it through a tammy [a kind of cone-shaped filtering device—modern cooks know it as a tamis], by rubbing with two spoons, in the same manner as for a puree, in order to force the pineapple through the tammy. This custard must now be iced in the usual manner, and put into a mold of the shape represented in the annexed wood-cut; and in the center of the iced cream, some Macedoine ice of red fruits, consisting of cherries, currants, strawberries, and raspberries in a cherry-water-ice, must be introduced; cover the whole in with the lid, then immerse the pudding in rough ice in the usual way, and keep it in a cool place until wanted.